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TCM Toni

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About TCM Toni

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    Advanced Member

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    twitter: @toniruberto

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    Buffalo, New York
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    Classic movies, Universal horror films and bad disaster flicks, plus reading and my dog.
  1. There is much to see in this multilayered opening to "Strangers on a Train." Hitchcock uses the "criss cross" metaphor both visually and through the music. As the two men walk toward each other, the editing cuts back and forth between them. We see the train tracks cross, then it takes one track as if to signify the men taking a fateful path. On the train, they sit across from each other then each crosses his legs until they touch which sets up their fateful meeting. Even the music has a criss-crossing sound as it echoes a motif between the two men. Hitchcock sets up the contrasting
  2. The use of the mirror in this scene from "The Ring" was particularly effective and was a masterful move by such a young director. The short scene shows a few things we will see from Hitch throughout his career including cross-cutting and montages. We're watching people in two very different rooms. In one, we see serious looking men in black tuxedos talking to a boxer they appear to be grooming for a big fight. In the other room is a party with a much lighter tone. The boxer sees the reflection in a mirror of a woman, who it turns out is his wife. She's sitting on the lap of a man watching
  3. I find the music has two roles in this scene. First it builds the dramatic tension. At the start of the scene it is simply background music, although it is light and playful, not what you would expect to hear. As the tension in the room escalates - the blinds are drawn, the room is enveloped in darkness and Hume Cronyn's character, the captain, becomes more sinister - the music escalates as well. It begins to swell, the strings repeat and amplify the nervous tension in the room. As the captain lifts the stick to again beat the reporter, the music hits its high, dramatic notes. When the bea
  4. Though set in 1918, film noir elements are found throughout this early scene. Multiple doorways are used as claustrophobic framing devices, a mirror in the background shows his reflection, a large number of train tracks take over full frames. There are elements of formalism as the terrified man goes on the run and a nightmarish sequence begins with a spinning train "wheel," dissolving into his sweaty, disoriented face, dissolving back again and then, in the middle of the frame, a train starts to come right to us. That sequence in particular highlights the noir themes of desperation, disorienta
  5. If I had not read the words of Foster Hirsch, I don't think I would have thought this scene was part of a film that "signaled the end of a movie cycle." However, I definitely would have though something was off. First that opening minute: the RKO logo accompanied by train sounds cuts away to an approaching train with a suddenly blinding light. Abruptly it cuts to the film's title in huge letters and the loud, jarring ringing of the alarms at a train crossing. The movie title slides to the right and we see a sign: Chicago Yard Limit. It's tilted at a peculiar angle; that image slides away a
  6. It is all about the timing in this opening scene from "Kansas City Confidential." A man is watching a bank from a window high above across the street. Silently he watches with a steel gaze, checking the clock on the bank as well as his watch. He is timing the arrival and departures of the police, a delivery man and an armored car. He hits the timer button on his watch twice and checks off the times on a large sheet of paper. It is a painstaking process but everything is precise and timed to the second. It appears to all be going according to plan. This short segment is intriguing because i
  7. This short segment from "99 River Street" was as brutal outside of the ring as it was in the ring. The opening shots take the viewer right into the ring using a realistic shooting style with close-ups of a bloody face jaggedly intercut with POV shots of the champ who is doing the pummeling. From these close shots to the crowd noise and the voice of the announcer sounding like he is sitting right next to us, we feel like we are ringside. Finally, Ernie goes down with his bloody face caught on a lower rope staring at the viewer. He could almost be dead. The camera then pulls back and just by
  8. This scene seems very straightforward, easier to read than some of the other noir scenes we have witnessed. It starts with a reunion of two (of three) old friends after nearly 20 years. They are sitting in an office and are using some elements of noir in a subtle way. They are smoking and have an early morning drink as the window blinds filter out some of the bright sun, leaving light shadows on the wall. It's nothing ominous - but we get inklings of that later in their interactions. When Walter's secretary buzzes to say his wife has arrived, he oddly tells her to wait, but Sam wants to se
  9. This scene from "Too Late for Tears" has some of the elements from previous "road noir" we have seen of late: the dark highway, the isolation, a feeling of the viewer being put into the middle of the story. It doesn't have the feeling of foreboding of the opening of films like "Kiss Me Deadly" or "The Hitchhiker," however, but I think that is what helps it work so well. We may not know exactly where we are in the story, but that's not upsetting as it was in the previous films where there was clearly something bad happening. In "Tears," it seems like an ordinary night on the road. We meet
  10. I agree that Alfred Hitchcock should be a special case when it comes to considering film noir directors. And if we are to believe, as Foster Hirsch said, that Hitchcock is a noir stylist, then we may also believe that film noir is a style, not a genre or movement. "Strangers on a Train" is a great film to make my case; it's a thriller, but the look and feel is also noir. This short opening sequence holds many motifs of film noir including heavy shadows, framing devices (the large arches at train station), the use of music and bold/interesting compositions (railroad tracks crisscrossing eac
  11. The opening scene of "D.O.A." isn't flashy or loud, but it is an attention grabber that makes you want to stick around for the rest of the film. A man walks into a police station with a purposeful stride. We only see him from the back, but we - and the camera - follow him as he walks through the station and then down a very, very long hallwall lined with doors. The camera doesn't cut away and it almost feels like he'll never get to his destination. He finally turns and opens a door labeled Homicide Division. He wants the man in charge. "I want to report a murder," he says. "Who was murdered?"
  12. Good point about the women's clothing and how ordinary they are; plus the question about how much control she had over her life before she went to prison.
  13. Yes, I agree too. I think having the opening credits so prominent and obscuring the background was meant to make it difficult to see what was happening, adding to the confusion and feeling of being trapped.
  14. All three of the Daily Doses this week introduced us to films with opening scenes that are disturbing and confusing. Again with "Caged" we don't know where we are. The opening credits fill the screen and slowly we can make out something behind them. Then we hear a police siren. A small square pops up in the middle, but most of the screen is still in darkness. I'm sure audiences that originally saw this on a big screen would have seen much more of what is happening in that small square than we can on a computer, but I think the effect is relatively the same. Watching on the big screen they woul
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